When you travel, the world seems to get a lot smaller. It’s amazing how common it is to bump into acquaintances or friends of friends, even in far-flung locales thousands of miles from home. It turned out that a friend of a friend from college was going to Thailand right around the same time I was. She ended up in the south, and I ended up in the north, but this week she happened to be traveling around Chiang Mai, and we took a cooking class together.
The first hour of the class was spent walking around the market, where we were introduced to different ingredients. First, we got a look at the different chiles and learned about what they are used for. The larger ones are mild and are common in stir fries. The smaller ones are much spicier and are used in sauces and curry paste.
This is hand-pressed tofu. It’s nice and firm, and I wish I could find stuff like this in California! The yellow tofu is colored with turmeric.
We bought a bunch of vegetables to use in the class:
Here, Duan explains different rices. White basmati rice is most common, but there are also brown and red varieties. Sticky rice can be either black or white. A lot of people buy sticky rice in Thailand and don’t understand why it doesn’t work when they try to cook it. Apparently it has to soak overnight first.
Tons of spices!
Green papaya, jackfruit, and banana flowers (the big purple things). Green papaya gets shredded for som tham, jackfruit is commonly used in desserts, and banana flowers are thinly sliced and used in soup or stir fry.
Thai shallots (on the left) are much smaller than the ones typically available in the US.
Their garlic (on the right) is much smaller too. Fried garlic is a common garnish, and they don’t peel the cloves first.
A comparison of galangal and ginger:
There are a few different kinds of eggplant, and they’re all green: long thin ones, small green and white golf-ball sized ones (that are commonly found in green curry and some stir fries), and tiny pea-sized ones that are crunchy and incredibly bitter).
The markets usually have big tubs of live fish…